Tooting our own horn

Journalism, like people isn’t what it used to be. It’s constantly changing, not always for the better. Society itself, is also changing and definitely not for the better.
One of the things I love about my job is that it is never the same each week. Yes, some things are the same tasks like page layout but you are not putting the same information on the page each week, so that makes it different to me. I’ve left the business a couple of times because it can be stressful and people cruel, but God has put me back every time. I finally gave up and accepted I’m where I’m supposed to be in a career.
Because of the change in society, we sometimes get grief we do not deserve; sometimes because people don’t understand what we do at all. They think we can just put anything and everything out there as a story and for us (with ethics) that’s not what we do unless we can verify facts. Even if you know something to be true, if it can’t be verified, it can’t be published.
As a young journalist starting out, of course, I also wanted to help change the world for the better. I thought that if the public knew what was going on with their government, they would be more educated and could participate in the community to make it better. As it turned out, it doesn’t work that way because you can’t make people be engaged. They have to want to be engaged in their community and what’s going on in it. Some are, but there are lots others who are not.
Still, I believe in journalism and community newspapers because we are writing a history of the communities we serve and years from now people can go back into the archives and see what was going on during various years. From time to time we have people come in to the office who want to look at some of the archives to look up something. When they find it, I feel a sense of pride because we did our job.
Every week there may be ups and downs but no matter what we have to try and do our jobs to the best of our abilities. We don’t always get an A but it’s not from lack of trying.
This year, we entered five items in the Georgia Press Association Awards program. In 2012 our Christmas Edition won first place. This year we have been notified that three different entries have won. We don’t know what place we’ve won but a house ad about subscription won, as did our Letters to Santa edition and our Honoring our First Responders edition. It will be the end of May at the GPA annual convention before we find out which placed where. That means three out of the five entries won something. Entries are judged against all newspapers of the same size throughout Georgia. That’s exciting and encouraging. Judges felt we were doing something right.
We were excited when we got the letter but it is also a testimony to our readers and advertisers as well. Our advertisers make this paper able to publish, as do our subscribers.
I’m the only full time employee here and think we do an outstanding job with such a small staff. I’m pleased to say they are loyal as well. I’ve been here now 12 years, Kristi has been here for five years and Linda for four. Robby our delivery man has been with me for eight years. It means a lot to keep the same staff because you become more familiar with the community the longer you are involved.
The things we know or have learned are not always pleasant or good, but there are a lot of good things as well. Sometimes you have to step back because you get bombarded with too much negativity, I recently had to take a hiatus from one meeting for a couple of times because I wanted to slap one of the councilmen for his arrogance and superior attitude. I know too much about this man and his actions just infuriated me and he thinks he knows things which he really doesn’t. He still thinks he is the smartest person in whatever room he happens to be in and that’s okay, as everyone else knows better. I have been able to go back and get over my irritation with him, thank goodness.
We have to adapt at times, which is not easy, when there is a change in staff or administration in the entities we cover. The new faces have to be retrained and you have to start over in acclimating them to what you need from them and what you expect. It’s also a balancing act to remember that friendship and work need to be separated. We don’t have much of a problem with this but the friend does at times. In this business, you have to accept the fact that your friends and enemies change on a weekly basis, depending on what’s in the paper that week. Yes, sometimes friendships suffer or are lost, but then again you wonder if they really were friends in the first place.
Those in office still think sometimes, the public doesn’t need to know certain things. We beg to differ and believe because it’s the public’s money that is being spent, they have every right to know. I have also found over the years that everything that comes out of elected officials mouths, can not be trusted, so I take nothing at face value. Seeing so much secrecy at times and striving to get to the bottom of things when officials are blocking you every way you turn, can take its toll of us at times, because we are, after all, still human.
We hope that when we do receive these three awards that you will be proud of your community newspaper as well. We don’t do it for recognition but as you know, it’s always great to be recognized and appreciated for things that you do. We look forward to finding out where these three entries placed. We are especially happy about the First Responders edition because it’s our favorite each year as we give recognition to those so deserving. We’ll let you know when we find out. Thanks to all those who support and encourage us. ©2019
VICTORIA SIMMONS Is a columnist, author, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: vsimmons54@gmail.com

About vsimmons54

Veteran journalist of 40 years. Editor, Motivational Speaker, Ordained Minister, CEO of A Light in the Darkness Ministries, Copy Editor, Copywriting, Event Planner, Lensclusive Photography, Babbling Brook Consulting and Design, event planner and author. I love to write and speak and I love Jesus. I also do copy writing and editing. Recently co-authored Vanished Towns Revisited.
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